Ahmed Abdel-Latif talks about change in IP. We’re interested in IP because we’re interested in change, but we need to think much more strategically about how change comes about. Abdel-Latif argues that change happens when three factors come together:
1 A compelling narrative;
2 The right moment; and
3 Strong networks.
Success stories, where we have had all three factors, include Doha Development Round (2001), WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPOA) (2008), SOPA/PIPA & ACTA (2010-2012), Marrakesh VIP Treaty (2013).
Conversely, we have not had a confluence of these factors in the debates around the protection of traditional knowledge or access to clean technologies. The narrative hasn’t been well-formed, and coordination has been lacking. The result has been stalemate.
Abdel-Latif’s message is that we need to be more strategic about how we attempt to influence policy, on a global and a regional level. He argues that activists need to maintain a sense of urgency about the current pressing issues, but also think a bit more ambitiously about the positive reform agenda, in order to create a persuasive narrative and identify the right time to act. Most importantly, we need to link these debates over IP with broader social issues – show how IP reform is linked to development, jobs, social justice, etc.